LOS ANGELES — On October 3, 2018, the Labor Commissioner’s Office announced it cited three restaurants in Southern California $1,065,646 for wage theft violations owed to 22 workers. Most of the workers were paid less than $5 an hour and regularly worked more than 10 hours a day with no meal or rest breaks.
“Investigators in the Labor Commissioner’s Office are experts in California labor law and can determine if employers are ripping off their employees,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “No employee should be working long hours with no breaks and making less than minimum wage.”
- Sanamluang Cafe in North Hollywood was cited $833,707, with $708,457 payable to nine workers and $125,250 in civil penalties. Money due to the workers includes minimum and overtime wages, liquidated damages, waiting time penalties and meal and rest period premiums.
- Orchid Thai Cuisine in Arcadia was cited $407,883, with $307,133 payable to 11 workers and $100,750 in civil penalties. Money due to the workers includes minimum and overtime wages, split shift premiums, liquidated damages, waiting time penalties and meal and rest period premiums.
- Orchid Thai in Baldwin Park was cited $85,856, with $50,056 payable to two workers and $35,800 in civil penalties. Money due to workers includes minimum and overtime wages, split shift premiums, liquidated damages, waiting time penalties and rest period premiums.
The Labor Commissioner’s Office launched the investigation at Sanamluang Cafe in August 2017. Investigators determined that owners Surapong and Viriya Chinotaikul paid their workers a flat rate of $50 for a 10 to 11.5 hour shift each day with no meal or rest breaks. According to the Labor Commissioner’s Office, even after investigators met with the owners to address the violations, the employer failed to comply with labor laws. As a result, additional penalties were assessed to recover the underpayments through April 2018. Snamluang Thaifood, Inc. DBA Sanamluang Cafe and its owners Viriya Chinotaikul and Surapong Chinotaikul are jointly liable for the citations levied.
The Labor Commissioner’s Office launched an investigation last July into Orchid Thai and Orchid Thai Cuisine after receiving complaints from workers who had reported underpayment of wages to civil rights group Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles. Investigators discovered that both restaurants paid their workers a flat rate of $45 to $50 a day for shifts of up to 10 hours, ordered workers to prepare for the day and clean up afterwards off the clock and did not pay them split-shift premiums as required by law.
Orchid Thai Cuisine and Orchid Thai restaurant are both owned by Chakri, Revedee, Chavin, Charlene and Chanica Veranunt, who formed separate corporations for each of the restaurants, CTV Food, Inc. for Orchid Thai Cuisine, and C.LO Foods, Inc. for Orchid Thai. The corporations and each individual owner are jointly and severally liable for the citations at the respective restaurants.
Enforcement investigations typically include a payroll audit of the previous three years to determine minimum wage, overtime and other labor law violations, and calculate payments owed and penalties due. Civil penalties collected are transferred to the State’s General Fund as required by law.